Leeuwarden and the Royal Canadian Dragoons

The Netherlands




Immediately after the liberation of the city on 15 April, a bond was formed with the liberators, the Royal Canadian Dragoons, a bond which has remained to this very day.

On 15 April just before noon, a patrol of the Royal Canadian Dragoons drove almost unimpeded into the city via the Groningerstraatweg. Soon after, the rest of their Squadron followed. Commander Lieutenant Colonel Landell established the Regimental Headquarters at Hotel De Doelen. 
While much of Leeuwarden's population welcomed the liberators, there was at least one family in Leeuwarden that had other priorities. The birth of a daughter was imminent. Amid all the revelry, baby Janny was born in a house on Werkmanslust street. Janny was the sixth child in the Jetten family. So there was a double celebration in Jetten's house. But there were still fears that the Germans could return.  

To determine whether a German counter-attack could be expected from the west, part of the Squadron soon set off again. They reached Franeker the same day. But had to leave this city again on the very same day because of the considerable German presence west of the city.  

A German attempt to retake Leeuwarden was out of the question, though. The Dragoons received reinforcements from the 7th Reconnaissance Regiment Duke of York´s Royal Canadian Hussars on the afternoon of 15 April. And when the infantry of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders arrived on the night of 15 to 16 April, there was no longer any danger of the Germans retaking the city. Moreover, on 16 April, large parts of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division were welcomed to the Frisian capital. 
The Dragoons made a major contribution to the liberation of Friesland. A confluence of circumstances also allowed them to be the first Canadian unit to be received in Leeuwarden. The bond that then developed between Leeuwarden and the Royal Canadian Dragoons has since remained. 
In 1959, the Dragoons paid an extended visit to the city. The liberation was commemorated during several gatherings. Then 14-year-old Janny Jetten, the girl born during the Dragoons' entry, was dubbed ‘liberation girl of Leeuwarden’ by the Canadians and was showered with presents. Leeuwarden donated an old Frisian grandfather clock to the regiment. Canadian delegations also visited the city in later years. 
In 1983, when the Royal Canadian Dragoons celebrated their centenary, a bricked-in plaque commemorating the liberation of Leeuwarden was unveiled in the municipal office. Leeuwarden commemorates the liberation by the Royal Canadian Dragoons every year on 15 April. On this occasion, in the presence of a delegation of the Dragoons, the regimental flag is also hoisted by the mayor.  
The Royal Canadian Dragoons celebrate Leeuwarden Day every year on 15 April - wherever they are in the world. On that day, the flag of Leeuwarden is raised and the Dragoons’ deployment in Friesland is commemorated.